Victory and Defeat

The Gurbani indicates that we do not know what the victory is and what the defeat is. Such is the condition of the Saakat or the Manmukh (self-willed, who lives at material consciousness, ignorant, who lacks spiritual Understanding- ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਲੋਂ ਬੇ-ਸਮਝ, denier of truthful living, self-centered, one in love with Maya, ego-Haumai- being, unaware, unawake, untrue, unwise, etc.)

  • ਜੋ ਭਲਾਈ ਸੋ ਬੁਰਾ ਜਾਨੈ ॥ ਸਾਚੁ ਕਹੈ ਸੋ ਬਿਖੈ ਸਮਾਨੈ ॥ ਜਾਣੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਜੀਤ ਅਰੁ ਹਾਰ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਵਲੇਵਾ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਸਾਰ ॥੨॥: Jo bhalaaee so buraa jaanai …: That which is for (one’s) own good, (he) thinks is evil. If someone tells (him) the truth, (he) looks upon that as poison. (He) cannot tell victory from defeat (i.e., he cannot tell what is good to win the game of life – ਜੀਵਨ-ਬਾਜ਼ੀ – or what will bring him the defeat). This is the way of life in the world of the Saakat. ||2|| (sggs 180). 

There is nothing permanent about anything in life. Whatever we see in this world is fleeting.

So is any victory and defeat.

Because of some victory in life, no one can claim that he will always be victorious in in all his future endeavors. Or because of some defeat, no one can say that he will always be facing defeat in all his future endeavors.

So the attitude “I will only accept success” seems erroneous. Also, it seems equally erroneous to assume that only defeat awaits out there.

Therefore, we should be able to accept both victory and defeat with equanimity.

It is not the number of victories in one’s life that determines whether or not it was successful. In fact, life is a mixture of success and failure. Hence, it appears that real victory is achieved when one is able to accept both – victory and defeat – with mental equanimity.

The Gurbani wants us to be aware of impermanence of everything in life.

  • ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਜਉ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਮਿਲਿਓ ॥ ਮਨ ਮੰਦਰ ਮਹਿ ਦੀਪਕੁ ਜਲਿਓ ॥ ਜੀਤ ਹਾਰ ਕੀ ਸੋਝੀ ਕਰੀ ॥ ਤਉ ਇਸੁ ਘਰ ਕੀ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਪਰੀ ॥੭॥: Kar kirapaa jo sathigur miliou. man mandhar mehi dheepak jaliou. jeeth haar kee sojhee karee.tho eis ghar kee keemath paree: When, by His Grace, Satguru is met, the lamp (of spiritual Wisdom – ਗਿਆਨ) is lit within the temple of the mind. Then one realizes what victory and defeat really are. Then he comes to appreciate the true value of this body (ਅਪਨੇ ਸਰੂਪ ਦੀ). ||7|| (sggs 235). 

The attitude of defeat and victory is duality, the relativist consciousness (the projection of the false ego-sense or Haume — the deluded mind). When we live in such conditioned, fragmented or Haume-mind and follow its dictations (Manmukh lifestyle), there is the distinction of defeat and success.

  • ਕਹਨ ਕਹਾਵਨ ਕਉ ਕਈ ਕੇਤੈ ॥ …: Kahan kahaavat kaou kaee ketai …: Many merely speak and talk about God. But one who really understands the essence of Yoga – such a humble servant is very rare||1||Pause|| He has no pain – he is totally at peace. With his eyes, he sees only the One Lord. No one seems evil to him – all are good. There is no defeat for him – but all victory.||1| | He is never in sorrow – he is always happy; but he (does not) gives this (true happiness) up, and does not take anything (to replace it). Says Nanak, such humble servant of the Lord is himself the Lord, he does not come and go in reincarnation ||2||3||22|| (sggs 1302). 

Since the Gurmukh (Spiritual Being …) has transcended the consciousness of duality, he is neither affected by victory nor defeat. Since he is constatnly established in his Essential Nature (“Joti-Svaroopa” or unconditioned consciousness), his mind is not affected by any of such worldly changes.

Also, the Gurbani wants us to be aware that at the surface a Gurmukh may seem to be drowning or losing in life, but in truth he is the only one wining! To the contrary, a Manmukh (a Saakat or material being established in ego, Haume, lower consciousness, worldly consciousness, etc.) may seem to be winning in the world, but in truth is he is just losing all.

  • ਜੀਤੋ ਬੂਡੈ ਹਾਰੋ ਤਿਰੈ ॥: Jeeto boodai haaro tirai: The victorious are drowned, while the defeated swim across (sggs 1161).
  • ਹਾਰ ਚਲੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖ ਜਗ ਜੀਤਾ ॥: Haar challe gurmukh jag jeetaa: The gurmukhs who seem to be losing i.e. who turn their faces from the evil propensities, conquer the world (Bhai Gurdaas Ji, Vaar 10).

According to the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS, here is the real winner and the real loser in life:

  • ਤੇਰੈ ਨਾਇ ਰਤੇ ਸੇ ਜਿਣਿ ਗਏ ਹਾਰਿ ਗਏ ਸਿ ਠਗਣ ਵਾਲਿਆ ॥: Those who are imbued with Your Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) win (the game of human-life), while the cheaters lose it. (sggs 463).

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